After the grandstanding focus must return to pupils and schools

East Belfast MLA Robin Newton has said the after political grandstanding by some parties in the Assembly, their focus should return to what the Education Minister has been focusing on; delivering the best outcomes for pupils, parents, teachers and all staff within our schools.

By Robin Newton MLA

Belfast East

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Speaking after the Assembly debate the Education Committee member said, "The level of prior attention paid by some parties to our pupils and schools was demonstrated clearly by this motion. When listening to some Sinn Fein and SDLP MLAs in particular people could have been forgiven for believing that Ministers from those parties had opposed the guidance to schools that was being criticised. In reality however, those parties were part of the unanimous Executive support offered when they were discussed at the 12th August Executive meeting.

There were others who do not even appear to know the areas of responsibility for different Ministers in the Executive. The Education Minister has been working closely with the Minister of Health to find solutions precisely because powers in relation to public health lie with the Health Minister. Whilst others were preparing soundbites those two Ministers were working positively and pro-actively on the issues that actually matter.

There has been a rise in Covid cases following the return to school and both the Education and Health Ministers have both been listening and taking action. A more targeting approach to contact tracing has already been agreed that will result in fewer pupils having to self-isolate unnecessarily and issues in relation to PCR testing will be pursued by the Department of Health. Mitigating measures including ventilation and the provision of CO2 monitors are being pursued and I hope that the Finance Minister will give practical effect to the words of his colleagues in supporting the bid from the Education Minister for funding to deliver this.

With the Assembly debate and the associated political grandstanding over, the focus can return to what the Education Minister has been focused on; delivering the best outcomes for pupils, parents, teachers and all staff within our schools."

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